The former U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Center is seen on Roosevelt Road on Monday, July 25, 2022, in Forest Park, Ill. | ALEX ROGALS/Staff Photographer

After having a time-constrained and short-handed village council deadlock a week ago on his proposal that Forest Park bid on a six-acre Roosevelt Road site housing the Armed Forces Reserve Center, Mayor Rory Hoskins told the Review Monday that the deadline for proposals has now been extended to Nov. 1.

He said the extra time will allow the village to do an environmental assessment of the site and its main building while also developing a more detailed plan for its potential use by the village.

Hoskins said funds from the Hannah/Roosevelt TIF could be used to conduct soil borings at the site. This would address possible contamination from an underground storage tank. The current building will also require removal of asbestos and lead paint abatement. Hoskins said if the village goes through with submitting a proposal, it will be non-binding.

The mayor envisions the property being transformed into a municipal center that could house the village government, the police department and public works. He could also foresee moving senior services from the Community Center to the Roosevelt Road site. He believes the parking lot facing Roosevelt Road could be converted to greenspace. 

The current village hall is cramped and Hoskins said the Army facility contains three times as much space. He believes the building could be opened in stages, as the environmental work progresses. He said several local politicians are supportive of Forest Park acquiring the property, including State Senator Don Harmon and the Speaker of the House, Chris Welch. State and federal dollars will most certainly be necessary to finance any plan. The village has been pursuing the property since 2007. 

Under an unusual land swap system run by the military, the financing of the Roosevelt Road plan is contingent on the village’s financial ability to build a drainage system at north suburban Fort Sheridan. 

“It’s time to take a deeper dive into the project,” Hoskins said. Even if the property wasn’t used for a municipal center, the village could sell it to a developer. “There’s already a ton of interest in the Altenheim property,” Hoskins said, noting the village’s prime location, close to downtown and O’Hare Airport.

Now that the village has more time to explore options, Hoskins plans to come back to the village council with a new proposal. 

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.